Metabolic Syndrome X may be one of the most common and overlooked diseases to strike Americans. No, this is not a deadly new strain of virus or even cancer. Metabolic Syndrome X is a disease that is caused by the human body’s inability to utilize foods that are consumed. Recent projections are that as many as one in three people currently suffer from Syndrome X (also known as insulin resistance). The good news is that making basic lifestyle changes can be very effective at reducing insulin resistance. Eating whole foods, eliminating processed foods, supplementing with necessary vitamins and minerals, and exercising will all reduce Syndrome X.
Even if the name doesn’t sound familiar, these symptoms are probably quite familiar for many people:
– Weight gain
-Trouble losing weight
-Blood pressure rising
-Fatigue after eating
Insulin resistance isn’t a new condition. However, recent research has helped explain exactly how it impacts health and makes people sick. The chief cause of insulin resistance is over consumption of refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates include pastas, breads, and foods containing refined sugars. In addition to refined carbohydrates, eating foods that contain high levels of saturated fats, omega-6 fats (vegetable oils) and trans-fatty acids (partially hydrogenated oils) also contribute to insulin resistance.
The way it is supposed to work is that after a meal is consumed the body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose. This glucose then prompts the release of insulin (produced in the pancreas). Insulin transports glucose from the blood to cells where it is either used for energy or stored.
Unfortunately, when refined carbohydrates are consumed over an extended period of time, an unhealthy situation develops. Insulin levels will remain abnormally high and when this happens, cells become less responsive and even resistant to insulin. When this happens, the glucose does not get utilized for energy and glucose levels remain high. When glucose levels stay elevated, this insulin resistance eventually becomes diabetes.
There is also recent research that has connected elevated glucose to free radical activity. Because glucose is very active within the body, it is able to oxidize itself and consequently spins off high numbers of free radicals. These free radicals react to normal molecules and oxidize them and when glucose is chronically higher than normal this oxidization happens more readily and more free radicals are created. These free radicals are also capable of oxidizing cholesterol and this can lead to coronary heart disease.
Elevated glucose levels can also lead to a process called glycosylation, which has been tied to accelerated aging and disease.
The name Metabolic Syndrome X was created by Dr. Gerald M Reaven when he was describing how insulin resistance leads to serious health problems like obesity, hypertension, and coronary heart disease.
Metabolic Syndrome X involves six key traits:
-Elevated Insulin Levels
-Low High-Density Lipoprotein
To prevent or treat insulin resistance it is necessary to reduce glucose levels and control the free radicals that are fueled by glucose. One way to achieve this is by supplementing with alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid is effective for deactivating free radicals and is important for converting glucose to energy.
Other nutrients that may help improve insulin resistance are:
-Vanadium – helps insulin transport glucose to cells
–Chromium – helps lower glucose levels
– – helps reduce insulin resistance
–Vitamin E – helps relieve effects caused by high glucose levels in diabetics
Vitamin E appears to be able to dramatically reduce the incidences of coronary heart disease by neutralizing the free radicals that lead to this disease. These free radicals that are created from glucose are able to oxidize low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. White blood cells then destroy the oxidized LDL, infiltrate the heart and become trapped. These are the classic cholesterol deposits that are characteristic of coronary heart disease.
In a 14-week study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 21 healthy patients were given daily doses of 1,200 IU of natural vitamin E. Vitamin E was instrumental in reducing LDL oxidation and also prevented white blood cells from adhering to the heart.
Vitamin E appears much more effective than synthetic options and, in fact, the body seems to prefer the structure of Vitamin E over other compounds.
The bottom line is that if one consumes a diet high in refined carbohydrates there is a significant risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome X. It won’t happen overnight because insulin resistance develops over time and takes years to get severe. It is important to notice warning signs, though. Blood pressure that is creeping ever higher and elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels during one’s 30s or 40s are early signs of impending insulin resistance and eventual diabetes or coronary heart disease.
Healthy, clean living will do wonders to prevent these preventable diseases.
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